Raising laughter levels to a high at the Everyman Theatre, How The Other Half Loves provided the perfect antidote for a cold Monday evening, offering an excellent adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn’s hilarious play thanks to a stellar cast and genius production.
Having come to Cheltenham following huge West End success, not to mention its all-star cast, it’s fair to say that expectations for How The Other Half Loves were high; and thankfully, Bill Kenwright’s adaptation of Alan Ayckbourn’s farce exceeded expectations – and judging by laughter levels at the Everyman Theatre, I can safely say the rest of the audience agreed!
A hilarious story of marital mishaps and indiscretions against the backdrop of 1960s society, Ayckbourn’s play follows three couples and the confusion that arises thanks to infidelity, problematic alibies, and farcical situations.
Blending slapstick, witty one-liners, and wonderful comic timing, How The Other Half Loves tells two stories simultaneously – a feat which could be confusing were it not for a flawless cast and brilliant set that divided coinciding scenes and society down the middle.
Meanwhile, thanks to sounds of Marvin Gaye, rotary dialler telephones, retro fashion, and a set which sings of the 60s, the atmosphere perfectly reflected the era – a time when traditional gender roles and societal expectations were still very much in place.
Irresistibly funny and clever from the start, the play opens with two contrasting but coinciding mornings – the upper class Fosters with their immaculate house, breakfast service, and electronic toothbrushes; and the Phillips with their empty Cornflake boxes, messy baby, chaotic household and loud, public arguments.
Frank Foster, played by Robert Daws, was the perfect hapless but well-meaning husband, his constant bumbling exuberance an obvious irritation to his impossibly stylish and unfaithful wife, Fiona, played by Caroline Langrishe.
Over in the Phillips household, Bob, played by Leon Ockenden, certainly captured everyone’s attention with his risqué morning-wear, while Teresa, or ‘Terry’, played by Charlie Brooks, stormed around with all the indignance and angst of a long-suffering wife and mother.
The introduction of William and Mary Featherstone, played by Matthew Cottle and Sara Crowe respectively, completed the six-strong cast; a nervous couple to say the least, the Featherstones were the perfect unwitting third party and poor sufferers of unwanted Shandy drinks, mistaken accusations, and an accidental drenching – or two!
Offering two acts of comic confusion, physical humour, and a bit of hanky panky for good measure, How The Other Half Loves left audiences laughing until the end. And aside from demonstrating brilliant acting and comedic talents, the six-strong cast were a delight to watch thanks to their evident chemistry and enjoyment on-stage.
A play whose characters are only-too real, societal situations close-to-the-bone, and humour sometimes dark, Alan Ayckbourn’s play blended comedy with some home truths, paying homage to the British sense of humour and making for an outstanding show.
Taking place on two separate nights, but at the same time on-stage, the two – very different – dinner parties were a highlight during a flawless play. With scene-changes getting speedier, situations escalating, and laughter levels rising, the culmination of act one is comedy at its best.
There’s not much time, or many seats left, to see this smash-hit West End play while it’s in Cheltenham – so if you’re looking for a hilarious theatre visit this week, snap up some tickets before they’re all gone!
How The Other Half Loves will be at the Everyman Theatre until Saturday 11 November 2017. For more information see How The Other Half Loves, call (01242) 572573, or visit everymantheatre.org.uk directly.
Tuesday 07 November 2017
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